Bye week looms for Lycoming

Lycoming can see the light, shining brightly, drawing the Warriors in like a moth to a flame.

It’s a much-needed break on the horizon. Their bye week looms beyond Saturday’s game at Lebanon Valley. It’s a break in a season which has already had more ups and downs than the horses on the carousel at Knoebels.

Head coach Mike Clark didn’t hesitate is talking about his need for a break. The Warriors have been practicing and competing for two consecutive months since preseason camp started, without a break.

There’s a road block, though, the Warriors have to deal with. As if first-place games each of the last two weeks weren’t enough, Lycoming plays another one against Lebanon Valley on the road Saturday.

“It’ll just allow us to catch our breath. We’ve been at it for two months, eight straight weeks. It’s hard,” Clark said. “The players technically get a day off, but it’s Monday and they have to go to class. Everybody could use a break. I hate to say we have to get through this week, because if we just try to get through this week, then we won’t play well and we won’t give ourselves a chance to win. But it will be nice if we can pour everything we have into this week and try to win this game to catch our breath next week. We need it.”

It’s a matchup of two 4-1 teams, the only difference being Lycoming’s loss didn’t come in league play and Lebanon Valley’s did. Lycoming gained control of its own playoff fate in the last two weeks when it beat then No. 24 Widener, and followed it with a win over No. 21 Delaware Valley to become the only unbeaten team in MAC play.

The Dutchmen’s road to 4-1 hasn’t quite been the same as the Warriors’ Lebanon Valley has yet to beat a team with a winning record, and its opponents are a combined 8-15 this year.

Dig deeper and you’ll see the laundry list of reasons Clark is concerned about Saturday’s game:

– The target on Lycoming’s back has only grown as the top team in the league

– It’s a homecoming game for Lebanon Valley, which it has won the last four

– The Dutchmen are a disciplined team who played well in a loss to Widener in Week 2

– It’s hard to run the ball against Lebanon Valley’s defense

– It’s a road game for the Warriors

– Lycoming is coming off of two emotionally and physically draining football games

Clark is about to pretend he doesn’t have concern heading into the game. He’s had concerns of a hangover since the Warriors held on for a 16-14 win over Widener two weeks ago.

Playing a once-beaten Lebanon Valley team – regardless of who the wins are against – has done nothing to ease those concerns.

“We’re still going to be in first place in the conference on Saturday. Now, will we be the only team in first place, or will we be one of four teams in first place?” Clark said. “We like where we put ourselves and we’d like to stay here. I’m really concerned, though. I’m worried. This game worries me.”

And with the bye week looming, it’s just an added dimension of concern for Lycoming. Clark, like every other college football coach in the country, has a team that’s beat up. He has a team that’s exhausted after going through two-thirds of its season without a break.

But he’s asking just one more week of intense focus from his team before a chance to heal up, and a chance to take a breath. And the Warriors will need it to beat a Dutchmen team which leads the MAC in total defense. It’s also a Lebanon Valley team which is tied for the league lead in fewest interceptions thrown.

“They’re good. They’re very disciplined,” Lycoming defensive back Matt Malecki said. “They are 4-1. They might not have beaten the best teams out there, but they did win those games. So they’re not bad.”